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Ninth in a series

Staff writer

The opposition camp’s inability to cooperate will probably result in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party regaining a majority in the Upper House in the coming election.

However, the outlook is not all bad for the opposition, according to Jiro Yamaguchi, a political science professor at Hokkaido University.

“No reliable opposition parties that can replace the LDP yet exist in Japan, although many parties chant an anti-LDP slogan,” Yamaguchi said in a recent interview.

“In this situation, I think the LDP may recover a majority in the Upper House.

“I hope that an election loss will make the opposition parties realize that they can never beat the LDP if they work separately and lead them to seriously consider more cooperation among themselves,” Yamaguchi added.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, is trying to emulate Italy’s olive tree strategy, under which opposition forces succeeded in taking power after agreeing on key policies and a common candidate for prime minister.

However, Yamaguchi thinks it will take several years for such a strategy to work in Japan.

While it is vital to include Shinto Heiwa (New Peace Party) in a broad-based coalition, Yamaguchi said the party’s opportunism will make this difficult.

Most Heiwa members used to belong to the now-defunct Komeito, which was supported by Soka Gakkai, the nation’s largest lay Buddhist organization.

It is also thought likely that some DPJ members may defect after the election, but this would help the party consolidate as a real opposition force, he said.

“Many DPJ members joined the party only to win in the election by taking advantage of the popularity of its leader, Naoto Kan,” he said. “If such members leave the DPJ, it would be better for the party.”

While the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake have a similar political stance, members of the SDP and Sakigake are unhappy with some elements of the DPJ.

Yamaguchi said the parties can form a coalition if they overcome emotional conflicts and aim at the bigger goal of taking power.

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